The year is 2022 and I still hear some women say, “I don’t like lifting heavy weights because I don’t want to get bulky!” Whenever a woman tells me this, I give her a warm smile and say what I’m about to say to you now.
This is based on scientific facts. A woman who eats an appropriate amount for her activity level, gets the optimal amount of sleep, and does not take anabolic steroids, cannot get bulky. What you can get is lean, muscular, and stronger. And muscular is relative, meaning, when you stop wavy goodbye, the back of your upper arm stops too. Women should not be afraid of the word muscular. I believe what they are referring to when they use the word “bulky” is the image of a larger female who could be mistaken for a man. Let me state here: women come in all shapes, shades, and sizes and they are all beautiful.
Question? Is a prima ballerina bulky? Is the typical circus acrobat or contortionist bulky? No. These women are muscular. Their muscularity makes it possible for them to float effortlessly across the stage on their toes, or bend over backward and perform a handstand with ease.
To clear things up, “bulk”, for women, is fat and not muscle. Almost no woman possesses the hormonal makeup to develop muscle mass to the level of a man without performance-enhancing drugs. You would also need to eat obnoxious quantities of protein and train at least 4 hours per day. None of that is required for a healthy, sustainable life.
Science tells us that lifting heavy weights helps women in the following ways:
- Preserves and improves bone mineral density. This reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Preserves and increases lean body mass and improves your shape
- Reduces body fat and triglycerides by increasing your metabolic rate
- Improves strength, power, and physical function
- Helps prevent falls and lessens the negative impact of falls
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Increases the release of growth hormone – some consider this our internal fountain of youth
- Reduces risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, CVD, and cancer
The benefits of weight training for women are clear. Is it possible for a woman to gain weight while weight training? Absolutely. As you train, you will go through a phase where you are building muscle and there may be some weight gain. If you continue to train, the weight gain is temporary, as the resulting fat loss from the increase in metabolic rate and muscle mass will reverse the weight gain. I have seen this in every case with the women I train.
The bottom line is that weight training makes you the opposite of bulky.
So ladies, get in there and pick up those weights!